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How to Add Unique Touches to a Funeral Service

When we think of funerals, most of us have a very clear picture in our minds. It is usually a sober event with readings and music. This, however, does not have to be the case if you and your family want to do something different and unique. There are a lot of great things you can do to personalize a funeral service so that it can reflect the person you are mourning. If you are searching for the best ways to do this, we have some suggestions that can make a difference.

Remembrance Table

A good way of turning a funeral into a unique event is to have a remembrance table. These tables can have all manner of things that remind the family of the person who is no longer with them. It can include pictures, tokens of hobbies that they loved, flowers they enjoyed, and even scents. Since smell is our strongest sense tied to memory, having the smell of the loved one’s favorite perfume on the table can bring them to mind immediately.

Unique Music

Music at a funeral service does not have to be solemn. It can be fun and energetic, if this is something that your loved one enjoyed. Why not make a playlist of their favorite songs instead of having hymns? Some people even hire cover bands to perform songs that a loved one enjoyed. This can help turn a somber occasion into one that celebrates a loved one’s life. It can make it easier for people to relax and remember the fun times they had with the deceased. An Ameila, VA funeral home can help you choose the music and plan whether it will be live or a recording, so that everything is ready on the day of the funeral. 

Slideshow

Another great way to personalize a funeral and really make it a celebration of life is to have a slideshow available with favorite pictures. This can easily be arranged, since most funeral homes have projectors and screens. Choose fun pictures that reflect the loved one’s life and their personality. If there are special moments, like graduations, add them to the slideshow. It can be a great idea to encourage people to bring any pictures they may have with the deceased to make a collage of all of them. It is a good way of involving everyone in the funeral service.

All of these options can turn a normal funeral service into a special one that people will remember for a long time. If your loved one was someone who was always laughing, why should you have a very somber funeral? Try to show as much of the person’s personality as possible during the memorial and it will definitely make a much bigger impact on everyone. To start planning the service, contact Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Call 804-275-7828 right now to learn more about the options.

Helping Children Deal with Grief After a Loved One Dies

If it is difficult for an adult to deal with death, it is even more so for a child. Children, depending on their age, might not understand what death is, which can make it much harder for them to be able to start the healing process. If a loved one has died and a child in the family is struggling, it can be very important to know how to help them. We have some suggestions about how to do this below, so that the child can start feeling better.

Listen

The most important thing to do is to listen to a child as they speak about what they are feeling. Let them express themselves in any way possible. If this means drawing or speaking, let them do so without judgement. Do not tell them about similar situations you have gone through unless they ask specifically, since you do not want to turn it into a conversation about you. One thing to remember is not to push a child to tell you how they feel…just encourage them.

Let Them Cry

Another very common thing that adults do is try to keep a child from crying. They try to distract them from their grief, but this is not the best option. You want the child to start the healing process as soon as possible and this can only happen if they acknowledge the grief. If you are not sure how to go about this situation with a child, reach out to a Dale City, VA funeral home for guidance.

Answer Questions

A child will probably have many questions after the death of a loved one. It is vital that you do your best to answer them as honestly as you can. Many people try to give children answers that will make them feel better, but which are not necessarily true. This can create an issue later on. Avoid this by being as open as possible when they start asking questions.

Involve them in Process

If they want to be involved in the funeral or memorial, let them. Many people think that by not letting children go to funerals they are protecting them, but it can have the opposite effect. To begin the healing process, a child needs to understand what happened and find closure and seeing the funeral can make that possible.

All of these tips can make it easier for a child to find their way through grief after a loved one dies. Shielding them from a death is not always a good idea, so you want to take the time to be honest with them and listen to what they have to say. Let them express themselves in any way they feel is right in order to begin the healing process. Speak to an expert to help you with this by reaching out to Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Call us at 804-275-7828.

The “Big Why”

The Big “Why”?

She is surrounded by family as her tired, frail, ninety-five-year-old body can no longer go on. Her family grieves, yet, understands. Another family receives the shocking word that their fifty-two-year-old husband and dad dies suddenly from a heart attack. The disbelief and sudden grief are real, but they understand. Traffic accidents, drownings and cancer take so many lives. But there is one death that is perhaps the most difficult with which to deal. When a suicide occurs, those left behind are faced with the “Big Why?”. It is a question that may never be answered with understanding or certainty. One of the greatest influencers of suicide is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We are seeing a steady rise in the numbers of our veterans who succumb to suicide as a direct result of PTSD.

Over the years, I have embraced survivors of suicide. They carry the “Big Why?” with them all the time. And that question is so often accompanied by guilt. The guilt resulting from feelings that they somehow should have been able to see it coming; that, in hindsight, there were tangible signs and indicators of the person’s suicidal path. It’s the, “(Big) Why did I not see it coming?”

There are a few more reactions to the “Big Why?” of Suicide.

Anger

Unlike many forms of death, suicide can produce anger toward the deceased. When a person is murdered or killed by someone driving under the influence, we tend to be understandably angry with the person we deem responsible for that person’s death. Suicide is different. The anger toward the one who took his own life is rooted in the indignant “Big Why?”Why would you do this to your family and friends?” “I’m angry that you chose to check out!”

Fear

The other reaction involves the heightened awareness of our own mortality. It is the fearful thought that we too, in our own dark circumstances, might possess the capability of taking our own lives. It is not uncommon for suicide to enter our darker thoughts. I can only imagine the struggle that the actor Robin Williams was experiencing when he chose to end his life. He was a brilliant artist whose mental gymnastics and improvisational skills identified him. His ability to always be two steps ahead of his own conversation was unrivaled. It is what made Robin Williams…well…Robin Williams! But Parkinson’s Disease with Lewy Bodies Dementia would become a silent thief, robbing him of his identity. I am saddened by the emotional anguish that preceded his decision that he just couldn’t continue to live with that dreaded prognosis. I asked myself, “What would I have done in his situation?” “Do I have a breaking point?”

Condemnation

This is a tragically destructive reaction to suicide. There are those whose theological disposition regards suicide as a sin God will not forgive. As a theologian, my response to that position is that I trust God’s heart more than a limited or flawed interpretation of God’s mind. It also pre-supposes that the person’s relationship with God was nullified due to the despair of mental and emotional pain; that God would never accept the soul of a person whose mental or emotional pain extinguished the smallest light of hope. I will always defer judgement to a fair, merciful and loving God.

We just don’t know why a person gives up. It is very sad that we are often unable to count the many heroic battles that a person may have fought and won before darkness overtook them. It seems unfair that all the good acts and impulses of such a person should be forgotten or blotted out by that tragic irreversible act. I believe that our reaction should be one of love and sympathy, not of condemnation.

A clinically depressed person’s rationality becomes blurred in those final moments; perhaps so driven by an emotional tsunami that rendered him incapable of thinking anything except an end to the pain.

Do we not all have moments when we lose control with flashes of temper, irritation or selfishness that we later regret?  Does not each one of us likely have some final breaking point – even if we have been nurtured in faith? Life inflicts much greater pressure and pain on some than it does on others. Some persons have more complicated personality traits and medical challenges than others.

There is a story written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale some years ago that speaks to the “Big Why?”. Dr. Peale writes, “A few years ago, when a young man died by his own hand, a service for him was conducted by his pastor.  What he said that day expresses far more eloquently than I can express the message that I am trying to convey.  Here are some of his words.”

“Our friend died on his own battlefield.  He was killed in action fighting a civil war.  He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is real to us.  They were powerful adversaries.  They took toll of his energies and endurance.  They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and strength.  At last these adversaries overwhelmed him.  And it appeared that he had lost the war.  But, did he?  I see a host of victories that he has won! For one thing – he has won admiration – because even if he lost the war, we can give him credit for his bravery on the battlefield.  And we can give him credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used through his kindnesses and thoughtfulness, through his love for his family and friends … for all things beautiful, lovely and honorable.  We shall remember not his last day of defeat, but we shall remember the many days that he was victorious over overwhelming odds.  We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years that he had.  Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul.  But our consolation is that God does know and understands.”

I want to share some important news with you.

Morrissett Community Care and Aftercare offers various grief support groups, such as our Widowed Support Group. Another of those groups is our SOS (Survivors of Suicide) Group. The group will be co-facilitated by Tracy Hineman and me. Tracy is one of our dedicated and compassionate directors who has experienced the pain and grief of a survivor of suicide. Our SOS Support Group has been graciously provided a meeting place at Iron Bridge Church in Chester.

If you need a safe place to work through the grief that accompanies being a survivor of suicide, please contact us. The objective of the group is to experience healing. A suicide survivor may never be able to answer the “Big Why?”, but it’s so important for you to know that you are not alone. You can find strength and hope within a group of people who understand your struggle and provide support. Please call me or text at 804-873-0441 if you would like to explore being a part of this support group.

Greg Webber

Greg Webber

 

Director, Community Care/Aftercare

Certified Celebrant

6500 Iron Bridge Rd.

Chesterfield, VA 23234

804-275-7828 (office)

804-873-0441 (cell)

greg@morrissett.com

Finding the Right Columbarium Niche

When a loved one has chosen to be cremated or if you have decided that this is the best option for the deceased, one of the options to consider is a columbarium niche. These niches are a place to store the ashes that allows you to visit them whenever you want. For people who want cremation, but also want to be placed in a cemetery, this is the right choice. But how do you purchase the best columbarium niche? We have some suggestions to help.

Price Range

Of course, as with anything, columbariums come in different price ranges. Depending on the location of the niche, (whether at the top or bottom of the columbarium), the price can vary quite a bit, so it is important to keep that in mind. The material of the columbarium can also have an impact on price.

Single or Double

Something else to consider is whether you or your loved one wants a single niche or a double. A double can ensure that their loved one’s ashes are placed with them. This is important, especially if the columbarium is not very large or is a popular one in the cemetery. A double niche allows for two urns of ashes, while a single one allows for just one. If this is a concern, contact a cremation expert in Matoaca, VA to learn more about the options.

Indoors or Outdoors?

Another item to keep in mind is whether you want an indoor niche or an outdoor one. This can also have an effect on price, so it is important to ask about that before making a decision. With an indoor niche, you can have a very elaborate columbarium without worrying about the weather causing any damage. An outdoor columbarium tends to be made of sturdier materials that can withstand rain, sun, and snow.

Religious or Not?

Columbarium niches do not have to have religious displays. There are many simple ones that offer a sedate place for relatives and loved ones to visit. Although they are in cemeteries, there are columbarium niches that are secular in appearance. Depending on your preferences, you can speak with the crematorium to find these options in nearby cemeteries. There is no reason why your loved one should be placed in a niche that states religious sentiments if that is not what they wanted. Of course, for people who do want religious symbols, the options are much broader. No matter your faith, there is a columbarium niche that will be perfect.

All of these qualities need to be taken into consideration before purchasing a niche in a columbarium. Take the time to speak with experts in the field to learn about the options so that you can make the best possible choice for yourself or a loved one. To get started in this process, contact Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, found at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Reach out by calling 804-275-7828 right now for the information you need.

Cremation Services: Frequently Asked Questions

These days, more and more people are turning to cremation as an option after a loved one dies. This can be for a number of reasons including cost and impact to environment, so it is definitely an option to consider. Most people have questions about the process, which can make it more difficult for them to make a decision. We have some of the most frequently asked questions below to help you and your family choose the right option after a loved one dies.

Is Cremation Really Less Expensive?

One of the reasons people choose cremation is that it is less expensive than traditional burial. With traditional burial, you have to buy a casket, pay for embalming, preparation of the body, and many other fees…all of which can add up. For people who are on a tighter budget, cremation can be the right option because it eliminates many of these extra fees. There is no need for a casket unless the family wants to purchase one, for example. And even an urn can be a simple, inexpensive container.

What Can We Do with the Ashes?

Another concern that people have with cremation is: what to do with the ashes. There are a number of options. The one most people know is scattering the ashes, but there are also columbarium niches that allow you to visit the ashes at a cemetery. There are urns of many different kinds, including some that do not look like traditional urns so that you can place them in your home without upsetting anyone. A funeral home in Midlothian, VA can help you with this decision.

Is it Better for the Environment?

Cremation tends to be better for the environment, especially if you choose options like bio-cremation, which utilizes water instead of fire to break down the body. With cremation, there is no need to worry about embalming fluid seeping into the ground or metal pieces from caskets remaining in the earth. There are even biodegradable urns that can ensure you do not put any kind of stress on the environment if you want to give a loved one a water burial after cremation.

Can the Family be Present?

Most crematoriums and funeral homes do allow the family to be present as the cremation is done. This can be a moment of closure for people dealing with grief, so it is definitely something to keep in mind. People also feel more comfortable seeing their loved one for the last time before letting go.

These are just some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to cremation. Do not be afraid to ask anything you want to know from a funeral director or cremation service provider. The more you know about the process, the more sure you will be about the right choice for a loved one’s remains. Take the time to speak with an expert like those at Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd. Richmond, VA 23234. Call 804-275-7828 today to learn more.

Love Lives On

During spring and the celebration of Easter we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, life over death, and renewal and resurrection over destruction and decay. For those who are struggling with sadness due to the illness or death of a loved one the promises of spring can feel very far away. After a long, cold and dark winter many of us are in desperate need of hope.

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So what do we do when we find ourselves find ourselves in a season of sadness? Many years ago I asked myself the same question after losing my grandmother. Her health had been deteriorating for some time, and the last few years were full of what felt like a thousand small goodbyes as I watched her disappear bit by bit. I thought I had ample time to process the loss, yet I was still unprepared for the flood of grief that enveloped me a few days after her death. I had just gotten home so I parked my car in the driveway and sat there alone, immobilized by my grief, freely letting the tears fall.

Then I looked up and looked around. Peeking through the ground were the first small shoots of spring. The phlox that had taken up only a small area when first planted many years ago had spread into a large, lush blanket of purple. Birds were chirping and gathering materials to build their nests. Squirrels scampered through the yard. The sun shone through the clouds and the signs of life were all around me.

This scene, that I had viewed so many times before, suddenly took on new meaning. As I began to reflect upon it my spirit was renewed.

There is something inspiring about seeing new life emerge out of the earth every spring. It is the fulfillment of a promise that even though a seed falls into the dark ground and waits, it will eventually emerge and grow and stretch its face towards the sun.

It is also deeply satisfying when it is life that you placed into the soil with your own hands. It still amazes me that for many types of plants and flowers if I put in the initial effort and then if I am patient, it comes back. Even though every winter the ground seems bare, it changes each spring. This gives me hope.

That day as I sat weeping in front of my home it also occurred to me that many of the plants and flowers in my garden came from the gardens of people I loved. It was a part of something that they tended and nurtured at their own home, and then they shared that care with me. Plants were cultivated so well that they multiplied, creating an ABUNDANCE of beauty and life, and there was more than enough to share. Year after year their work produces new life and growth, and it still multiplies. I have divided many of the lilies and hosta and bulbs and given them to friends, who have then shared them with their friends. Countless home are now made more beautiful because someone gently placed a small plant into the ground many years ago, and helped it grow. And ever year I still look at my garden and smile and think of them and the love they shared.

Do you see what I am trying to tell you? LOVE multiplies. Beauty grows. Good deeds multiply and have a positive effect on other people, who then want to help other people. They cycle continues on and on and on.

Looking at my garden that day made me realize that our efforts to make this world a better place will can continue to bloom and grow and add beauty to this world long after we are gone. I reminded myself that that though the body of my loved one had stilled, what they contributed to this world will remain. The lessons she taught me and the kindness she showed to others will continue to bear fruit. She also will live on in me. She still influences me every day.

Dawn breaks over the dark horizon. Spring melts the winter snow. Green tendrils emerge from the ground. Life wins, beauty, kindness and memories continue. Love lives on. And so I find hope.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jennifer Roberts Bittner

Certified Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
(804) 275-7828

 

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